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Thread: Dog Attack ? What's the Legal Definition

  1. #1

    Default Dog Attack ? What's the Legal Definition

    Yesterday I took my pup for a walk and I had my 4 year old son with me as well.
    I walked past a house that has a picket fence along the front and a low section of colorbond fencing at the side that is about metre long before it rises up to a normal fence height.
    I walked past the front of that yard and what looked like a Mastiff crossbreed around 75cm tall started barking and came running to the picket fence. It was growling and barking as it jumped up following us along the front of the house. All its hair on its back was standing up and it was was in real frenzy.
    I tried not to react and just kept walking, I don't want my dog to be reactive to things like that so I just carried on as normal.
    Then when we got to the end of the picket fence the Mastiff /mongrel jumped the fence and charged at my pup, this thing was in attack mode so I had no choice I had to pick my pup up. It started jumping up trying to bite my dog and I just kept turning my back, it clawed my back like it was trying to climb over me and it snapped its teeth over my shoulder, I was worried it would get hold of my ear but I didn't get bitten at all, it was just after my dog not me.
    After about 15 jumps (It could have been more or less I wasn't counting) I called out to the owners which were on the front veranda and they just stood there watching. I yelled "call your bloody dog off" and they said nothing but I saw a woman starting to walk down the steps.
    I looked the dog in the eye and yelled as loud as I could "get out of it ya mongrel" (I have a very intimidating voice when I get angry) and I charged at the dog and it took off straight for my son, who panicked and ran away,luckily an old neighbour from across the road came over and put himself between my son and the dog and he grabbed my son before he ran onto the road.
    The woman from the house where the dog came from just said "How did you get out - he doesn't normally jump the fence" no apologies or remorse whatsoever.
    We all came out mostly unscathed but I have a few scratches down my back.
    Does this constitute a dog attack ?
    My fiancée says I should ring the police and the council, nobody got hurt and there is no bites or any real damage so I'm not sure.
    If the dog had attacked a pup walking with a kid there would have been problems so maybe I should report it to prevent anyone else getting hurt.
    It's helped forge a better bond between me and my pup, now he's even closer to me than he was before so there was an upside to it all.

  2. #2


    That's sounds awful and very scary!!

    I would absolutely count that as an attack!! I would call the council ASAP. The owners reaction is appalling and they need to know how dangerous this can potentially be.

    I'm terrified of unleashed dogs or the scenario you described. My cattle dog is not very dog friendly at the best of times but when she has been rushed at by an unleashed dog I find her hard to control. I am that nervous about it that I no longer walk the dogs myself. I always go with someone else as I don't trust myself to stay calm!! Very frustrating!!

  3. #3


    It's weird about the fear aspect of it, I didn't consciously feel any fear, I went into protection mode.
    I was really just thinking about my son and my pup, I think the dog saw me as an obstacle and not a target.
    I got angry and I had a surge of adrenaline, that's what made me charge the dog.
    I think maybe it's because I'm a parent now, protection of my family is priority No 1.
    Looking back, it was a scary thing to go through, it sounds weird but it was actually quite exhilarating.
    Before I had kids I think I would been terrified, but as a father I don't have that option anymore, the family just comes first and god help the beast who tries to harm my family

  4. #4


    Yes I'm a bit like that as a parent too. I think you handled yourself brilliantly!!

    My two dogs are geriatrics but my Cattle dog is still very active!! My Stafford is 13 years old and also gets her back up when rushed by a strange dog. She generally wont start a fight but she sure as hell won't back down from one either!!

    I had a lab rush up to me a few years back to say hello and my Stafford ripped into the poor thing. She was on lead but the Lab wasn't and it was the most distressing fight I've ever witnessed!! I think that's when I lost confidence in myself walking the dogs.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    What state are you in, Bundy?

    I just checked the legislation, and in Victoria if a dog has rushed at or chased another person, or if "the dog bites any person or animal causing injury to that person or animal that is not in the nature of a serious injury" (among some other things), that dog can be declared a "menacing dog" by the council. If this happens, the council may require the dog to be restrained and muzzled in public, etc. I would report this to council regardless, and see what their process is to deal with it.

    Here are two sections that would apply in your case - considering that these offences have been created, I don't think what happened to you would be considered an "attack". I say that because the offences with the words 'attack' deal with when a dog has caused serious injury or death.

    "If a dog rushes at or chases any person, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time the dog rushed at or chased the first-mentioned person, whether or not the owner of the dog, is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty of not more than 4 penalty units.

    And, "If a dog rushes at or chases any person, the owner of the dog, if not liable for the offence under subsection (7), is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty of not more than 4 penalty units.
    To check the legislation in your state, go to (xxx being the state's short name) - in Victoria the relevant legislation is the Domestic Animals Act 1994, so it is probably something similar in other states. I can check if you'd like.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    South Coast NSW


    I too agree you handled the situation well and glad to hear you, your son and puppy are safe.
    I would definitely report it. Even if it only jumped up at a child it would hurt them. If it wasn't for the neighbour who knows what the dog could have done to your son..
    Take photos of your back and maybe get the numbers of the witnesses.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Goulburn Valley Victoria


    I would report it. this may not be the first time this has happened and it may be worse the next time.You never know this maybe the incident that the council need to act upon and make the owners comply with the law. If it jumped the fence it is not secure or under control this would be considered a dog at large. I would call this an attack definitely........

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Bundybear

    The rules vary from state to state, and I'm not sure what state you're in.

    Next time it could be a dead dog after that. There was a letter to our local newspaper to that effect, ie a large dog broke through a picket fence and ripped two SWF out of the owner's arms and killed them.

    If I was you, I would report the incident to council. The aggressive dog doesn't actually have to do physical harm (under most state legislation including SA and NSW) to be declared "menancing" and if it is declared - it cannot be allowed to patrol its front fence like that, it has to be in a secure dog run out the back or inside the house.

    That dog's owners - should not be allowed to have a dog in my opinion.

    This is part of the relevant bit of NSW legislation
    COMPANION ANIMALS ACT 1998 - SECT 16 Offences where dog attacks person or animal

    The dog is not allowed to escape the property either so that alone is reportable and attracts a fine. And you obviously have several witnesses.

    And in NSW there is also a dog attack report database, reporting by council to the database is mandatory.
    Dog Attack Reporting - Department of Local Government

    If you're not sure what kind of dog it was, say cross breed, not staffy or staffy cross or pitbull cross etc. Because we (I) don't want specific breeds outlawed especially when most people cannot tell by looking at a dog what it is anyway. But given you have the address - if they've regisitered the dog - then the council will have what breed they think it is for the report. If they haven't registered the dog, there's another fine.

  9. #9


    Thanks for the replies everyone.
    I'm in NSW so that's just what I was after Hyacinth - thank you
    It definitely needs some further action, the dog is not far from a school so I will get on to it now.
    I agree that they are not fit to own a dog.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    Once a dog starts that type of behaviour it escalates BB so next tme it may well attack the person as well as their dog, and if that person is a child or old person with a little dog it will most certainly get the dog at the very least, so go hard, make sure action is taken.
    With owners like that there is no use giving any leeway even though it may mean the dog winds up being put down, better that than innocents getting hurt

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